NASA’s Perseverance rover finds ‘popcorn’ rocks on Mars

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has discovered some strange, “popcorn”-like rocks on Mars. After months of driving, the rover has arrived at a place called “Bright Angel.”

Here, it found some oddly textured rocks unlike any it had seen before. The team is excited and plans to drive up a nearby slope to learn more about where these rocks came from and how they fit into the area’s geology.

Before this, Perseverance had been exploring a place called “Mount Washburn,” where it studied a variety of interesting boulders. From there, it headed north and stopped in front of some layered, light-colored rocks.

The team wanted to get a close look at these rocks, so Perseverance took some pictures before moving west to a larger outcrop. This is where the rover will spend time doing detailed exploration.

Perseverance reached the base of this larger outcrop on sol 1175 (a sol is a Martian day), and the science team was fascinated by what they saw. The light-colored rocks had strange textures, filled with sharp ridges.

These ridges are similar to mineral veins found at the base of a nearby fan-shaped feature but are more numerous here. Additionally, some rocks are packed with small, round spheres, giving them a “popcorn”-like appearance. The scientists believe these features suggest that groundwater once flowed through these rocks after they were formed.

Next, Perseverance will slowly climb up the rock outcrop, taking measurements along the way. This will help the team understand more about the rocks and their history.

Over the weekend, the rover’s abrasion tool will be used to get a close-up view of the rocks and gather detailed chemical information with the instruments on its arm. The team will then decide whether to collect samples from these rocks.

Once the exploration at “Bright Angel” is done, Perseverance will drive south again, crossing an area called Neretva Vallis. Its next stop will be a place named “Serpentine Rapids.”

This discovery is another exciting step in Perseverance’s mission to explore Mars and search for signs of ancient life. The strange “popcorn”-like rocks might hold clues about the planet’s watery past and the geological processes that shaped its surface. Stay tuned as Perseverance continues its journey across the Red Planet, uncovering more of its secrets.